Arizona Summit Law School

Last updated
Arizona Summit Law School
Logo 2014-04-13 02-14.jpg
Parent school InfiLaw System
School type For profit
Dean Penny Willrich
Location Phoenix, Arizona, USA
33°26′55″N112°04′24″W / 33.448563°N 112.073199°W / 33.448563; -112.073199 Coordinates: 33°26′55″N112°04′24″W / 33.448563°N 112.073199°W / 33.448563; -112.073199
Faculty18 full time 40 adjunct
USNWR rankingRNP [1]
Bar pass rate20.1% [2]

The Arizona Summit Law School, founded in 2005 and known until 2013 as the Phoenix School of Law, is a for-profit law school located in Phoenix, Arizona. SummitLaw is part of the InfiLaw System of independent, for-profit law schools, which includes Florida Coastal School of Law and Charlotte School of Law, owned by Sterling Partners. [3] [4] Although the school was approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 2010, [5] the ABA withdrew the school's accreditation effective July 9, 2018, [6] and the school began closing in the fall of that same year. [7]

For-profit higher education in the United States consists of higher education educational institutions operated by profit-seeking businesses. However, as the blurring of public and private continue, for-profit education also includes for-profit mechanisms such as endowment money managers, for-profit fees for service, for-profit marketing, enrollment services and lead generation, privatized campus services, for-profit online program managers (OPMs), privatized housing, private student loans, and human capital contracts, also known as income share agreements.

Law school institution specializing in legal education

A law school is an institution specializing in legal education, usually involved as part of a process for becoming a lawyer within a given jurisdiction.

Phoenix, Arizona State capital city in Arizona, United States

Phoenix is the capital and most populous city of Arizona, with 1,660,272 people. It is also the fifth most populous city in the United States, and the most populous American state capital, and the only state capital with a population of more than one million residents.



According to Arizona Summit's official 2018 ABA-required disclosures, 34.4% of the Class of 2017 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners. [8]

ABA Employment Summary for 2015 Graduates [9]
Employment StatusPercentage
Employed - Bar Passage Required
Employed - J.D. Advantage
Employed - Professional Position
Employed - Non-Professional Position
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
Unemployed - Not Seeking
Unemployed - Seeking
Total of 151 Graduates

In July 2017, the school had the lowest bar passage rate in Arizona, with 25.7% of first time test takers passing compared to 76.1% for Arizona State University and 74.3% for University of Arizona. The state's total passage rate was 69.4% for first time test takers and 56.6% overall. [2]

Sandra Day OConnor College of Law one of the professional graduate schools at Arizona State University

The Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law is one of the professional graduate schools at Arizona State University, located in Phoenix, Arizona. The school is currently located in the Beus Center for Law and Society on ASU's downtown Phoenix campus. The law school was created in 1965 as the Arizona State University College of Law upon recommendation of the Arizona Board of Regents, with the first classes held in the fall of 1967. The school has held American Bar Association accreditation since 1969 and is a member of the Order of the Coif. The school is also a member of the Association of American Law Schools. In 2006, the law school was renamed in honor of retired United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

University of Arizona Public university in Tucson, Arizona, United States

The University of Arizona is a public research university in Tucson, Arizona. Founded in 1885, the UA was the first university in the Arizona Territory. As of 2017, the university enrolls 44,831 students in 19 separate colleges/schools, including the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and the James E. Rogers College of Law, and is affiliated with two academic medical centers. The University of Arizona is governed by the Arizona Board of Regents. The University of Arizona is one of the elected members of the Association of American Universities and is the only representative from the state of Arizona to this group.


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Arizona Summit for the 2014-2015 academic year is $64,856. [10] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $243,864. [11] The median amount of debt for program graduates is $178,263 [12] The school offers controversial conditional scholarships to students that can be reduced or eliminated based on overall grade point average, rather than academic standing. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 73 students had their conditional scholarship reduced or eliminated. [13]


The school had been located in the Phelps Dodge Tower, a 20-story building in downtown Phoenix, until August 2018, when it was evicted for failure to pay rent. [14]

Phelps Dodge Tower

The Phelps Dodge Tower is a high-rise office building located along Central Avenue in the Downtown area of Phoenix, Arizona, United States. The tower rises 20 floors and 290 feet (88 m) in height. Owned by Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd., the Phelps Dodge Tower was built in 2001. Upon completion it served as the headquarters for the Phelps Dodge mining company and today it stands as the 23rd-tallest building in Phoenix. Phelps Dodge was subsequently acquired by Freeport-McMoRan Inc., who moved the corporate offices two blocks north into the newly constructed Freeport-McMoRan Center.


Critics contend that Arizona Summit's admissions process was close to a fully open unselective enrollment system. [15] Arizona Summit's Fall 2016 entering class had a median GPA of 2.96 and a median LSAT score of 143 (20th percentile of test takers). [16] The 25th percentile of admitted students had a GPA of 2.55 and an LSAT score of 140 (13th percentile of test takers). The school admitted 64.1% of applicants. Last year, the school lost 99 first year students (33% of the class). Forty-one students failed out of the program, 35 transferred, and 23 left for other reasons.

The school says its mission is based upon three pillars: (1) a student-centered educational experience; (2) supporting programs that allow for professionally prepared graduates; and (3) commitment to underserved communities.

Nevertheless, legal scholars dispute the for-profit school's mission. Many legal academics contend that Arizona Summit admits students who have little chance of passing the bar or obtaining employment after graduation, in order to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in student loans. [15]

U.S. News and World Report did not report the rank of Arizona Summit in 2016. [18] US News only ranks the top three-fourths of law schools. [19]

In May 2017, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, the state's licensing authority governing for-profit educational institutions, voted to require the law school to post a $1.5 million surety bond, to be potentially paid out to students in the event the school closes down. [20]

Student organizations


Previously, the Chairman of the Board was Dennis Archer, a former Mayor of Detroit, Michigan Supreme Court justice and the first African-American president of the American Bar Association. [28]

A 2012 report showed that 18% of first-year students at Arizona Summit had transferred to other law schools. This led to a policy in which transfer students were required to meet with an adviser before their transcripts would be released.

Recording of oral arguments during appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

In 2013, two professors filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging that they had been fired for objecting to a new policy related to student transfers, among other policy changes. [29] The complaint was subsequently dismissed by District Court. [30] The plaintiffs appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The school created controversy in 2015, when the dean reportedly paid underprepared students not to take the bar exam. [31] [32]

Accreditation withdrawal and shutdown

On March 27, 2017, Arizona Summit was notified by the ABA that the school had been placed on probation. [33] Arizona Summit became the second InfiLaw school to be placed on probation by the ABA. Charlotte School of Law was placed on probation in November 2016.

In January 2018, the ABA issued a letter stating that the school's financial strength was insufficient to carry out legal education that met the ABA's standards and gave the school until February 1, 2018, to submit a report on its efforts to improve its financial position. [34]

The ABA withdrew approval in June 2018. The ABA approved the school's "teach-out plan" in November of 2018 as the school ceases operations. [35]

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  22. "Despite All Efforts, Law School Posts Worst Bar Exam Performance Ever". Above the Law. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
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  30. "".
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  34. "Arizona Summit Law School, already on probation, now out of compliance for finances".
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